I have been throwing VimLab Boat Parties since I moved to Minneapolis from San Francisco (where I attended many outrageous boat parties on the Bay, going under the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges with laser shows on Alcatraz) in 2003. In 2006, Paradise Charter Cruises started docking their boats at Boom Island Park, which I thought would be the most convenient spot to leave from - really the only one in Minneapolis - with an amazing view of the Guthrie and beautiful downtown skyline. I threw one VimLab boat party in the summer of 2006 and it was so successful that I decided to throw three in 2007, two in 2008 and am putting on two more this summer. All of the previous VimLab Boat Parties have sold out and I anticipate the same this year. It seems that a few other people in town have finally caught on and realized how amazing boat parties are - thus the influx of "non-VimLab" boat parties happening on the Mississippi this summer. They might be okay but there's really nothing like a VimLab Boat Party. The Star Tribune realized this trend and wrote the story below - it only took 6 years to get this, but still pretty cool.
Nightlife: We're on a boat
Say the words "boat party" in Minnesota and images of scandalous Vikings running amok on Lake Minnetonka come to mind. But I'm not talking about that boat party.
In what might be one of the nightlife scene's most overlooked examples of ingenuity, dance-party proprietors this summer will once again take their hip-shaking crowds off dry land and onto the Mississippi. Yep, riverboats are where it's at this summer.
"I like to describe it as a floating nightclub," said party planner Natalie Auger, who's hosting a cruise Friday. "There's really nothing else like it." (Details to the Friday Vimlab party can be found at www.vimlab.com).
DJs and bands fill onboard dance floors with capacity crowds. There's always a full bar. And the views from the river make for a unique sensory experience. "You've got the fresh air, you're going down the Mississippi and you get to see the skyline," said Gigi Ferrozzo, a boat-party regular from St. Paul. "The all-around energy and vibe is just different."
Last Saturday's 13th annual Reggae on the River boat party set off from Harriet Island with about 300 passengers and a live reggae band. That same night, Red Bull helped sponsor a dance party led by the Moon Goons' Jonathan Ackerman and a host of other DJs. They called the party aboard the 125-foot Jonathan Padelford "Riverdance."
"It's nice because your whole crowd is just trapped there," Ackerman said. "The boat is the dance floor, so people have to stay on the dance floor."
Oftentimes, these boat parties are divided along musical tastes. Auger's party tonight will feature house and other electronic dance music. The GLBT group that hosts a weekly line-dancing night at the Uptown VFW will obviously play all country music at its boat party July 18. On Aug. 14, Rock the Boat will host its second boat party with rockers the Big Wu and other live bands. Last year, the two-boat adventure sold out with about 720 passengers.
Hip-hop fans have their own boat party, too. The St. Paul record label SP Style will put on River Rampage this Saturday with a long lineup of DJs and rappers. It's a big party, thrown annually since 1996. Like Rock the Boat, it'll be spread across two riverboats -- one pushing the other. The 600 to 800 people it attracts is usually SP Style's biggest event of the year.
Tickets for these different cruises aren't exactly cheap. Most cost between $25 and $35 a person. But, "even in this economy, people understand the value of it," said DJ D.Mil, one of the main organizers behind River Rampage.
Apparently, there's just something about being on the water during the summertime. It's part of the culture here, D.Mil said, whether you're into rock, reggae, house or hip-hop.
"It's a Minnesota thing," he said.
Check it out here and Purchase Tickets For the VimLab/onethirty Boat Party on the Mississippi on Friday, June 12 with JEVNE, LOVE & PAYNE out of Boom Island Park here. Please arrive at the dock at 9:30 pm so we can board and leave promptly at 10:00 pm - we will cruise the Mississippi until 1:00 am.